Government issues apoology but not permit
By James Chow
|Mar 28, 2008
The Malaysia Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage apologized to the organizer and audiences for the cancellation of Divine Performing Arts' Chinese Spectacular shows in Kuala Lumpur.
The Ministry published an open statement through the mainstream newspapers, explaining the reasons behind the cancellation.
However, the Ministry refused to issue the performance permit to the organizer despite the apology.
The statement says that the Ministry granted the performance permit for Chinese Spectacular on January 8, but canceled the permit on February 21 due to pressure from Chinese Communist Party's embassy. The performance was scheduled for the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre Plenary Hall on March 22 and 23.
The statement explains that the Malaysian government was forced to cancel the show permit for the reasons of "maintaining the harmony of the country and for the bi-lateral relationship with Communist China".
Mainstream Chinese newspapers Sin Chew Jit Pao and China Press published the content of the statement.
On March 24, about 20 foreign audience members from Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong protested outside the building of the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage.
The disappointed audience members wrote in their protest letter that they have lost their good impressions of Malaysia and are concerned about the country's freedom and independence.
According to the organizer, more than 200 foreign audience members from Singapore, Indonesia, India, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, who have booked their air tickets and accommodation, still flew to Malaysia as scheduled and had to bear the financial and time losses.
Mr. Lawrence Koh, an Australian who had bought 20 tickets for his relatives in Malaysia, expressed his disappointment: "I am disappointed. Malaysia is a democratic country, yet Malaysia bowed to the pressure of Chinese Communist Party. This is a disgrace!"
NTDTV Global Media Network, local organizer of the show, expressed regret to the Ministry for not reissuing the show permit despite its apology.
"The statement justifying the cancellation for 'maintaining harmony' is misleading, and we really do not understand how our government can label a top-notch Chinese cultural show as affecting harmony; in fact, our show can really encourage harmony in society because we are promoting the true traditional Chinese culture and values," said Wong Mei Yee, the project manager of local NTDTV.
"We hope our government can apologize to us and also support our show sincerely by reissuing the performance permit to us," said Wong.